Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform
Part narrative, part analysis, this seventeenth edition of ALEC’s education-policy report card offers reformers a hearty pat on the back—and then delivers a swift kick in the pants. Split into five chapters, the report rehashes reform victories (in the areas of school choice and teacher quality, mainly) from the past year. As authors Matt Ladner and Daniel Lips note, these reformy ideas have hit the mainstream (exemplified by Obama’s embrace of charters and meaningful teacher evaluations). But, they also remind us, saying and doing are distant cousins. In a subsequent chapter, they showcase states’ meager academic-achievement gains on NAEP, breaking these gains down by race and socioeconomic and disabled status. (Florida, unsurprisingly, fares best on these metrics.) And then comes the pain: Using a revised set of indicators (based on last year’s report-card metric), Ladner and Lips rank states’ overall education-policy scores (yes, much like our own city-based analysis from summer 2010) on six categories: academic standards (measured by cut-score rigor), charter laws, homeschooling regulations, teacher-quality policies, virtual schools, and private-school choice. The unexpected upshot: Missouri has the strongest education-policy package out there. Florida and Minnesota round out the top three with B-pluses, both. Indiana—even with its top-notch reform package this year—earns a B (as does Ohio). The average grade for the states is a depressing C-plus. A detailed methodology is absent (how were the six indicators weighted; how, specifically, was cut-score rigor assigned?). Can this be oversight, as Missouri’s top marks (and Indiana’s lower scores) are sure to raise eyebrows (or, in our case, little buggy antennae). The Show Me State is number one? Could be, but not likely. Kindly show us the data!
Matthew Ladner and Daniel Lips, Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform (Washington, D.C.: American Legislative Exchange Council, 2012).
Category: Additional Topics
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